31 December 2009

Reduce. R.E.U.S.E. Recycle

As the resolutions become daily rituals of a new year and a fresh start I have been thinking of more ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. As each day passes I have become increasingly aware of my affect on the earth. While I was cleaning out my closet in a last ditch effort to organize and give to the goodwill I noticed how many pairs of jeans I have.
Let's face it most women's comfort zone rests in denim threads. Jeans have always, and continue to be my favorite. Especially the worn in pair that seem to mold to me like they were designed exclusively for my body. They are comfortable and can be worn with just about anything. However most of them, I am a little ashamed to say, are not environmentally friendly. There is no way I'm giving my lovely hip hugging denim to goodwill. So as I gather the bags on the way to be reused I wonder...Where in the world can I find recycled or environmentally friendly denim jeans? After just a little research I stumbled upon http://www.reusejeans.com/. "Step into a smaller carbon footprint one leg at a time." That is the first thing I saw and there is no arguing with that! These fabulous finds are made from sustainable 80% recycled premiere quality denim. In an effort to help reduce the effects that the fashion and textile industry have on the environment R.E.U.S.E. jeans have discovered a way to take one of the most popular items in anyone's closet and make it coincide with eco-fashion. A belief in a greener lifestyle does not have to stop at the closet door. So, a new item is added to the green resolution list, R.E.U.S.E. jeans! I can still have my favorite denim and feel confident about my green lifestyle choices "one leg at a time."

28 December 2009

Sole Power

Tis the season where my boots become my second skin. Between tromping all over the city in my constant attempt to improve my petroleum karma, and a probable bum boot zipper, it pains me to say I've worn through two pairs before even getting through December. Besides looking for a creative re-use for my boots gone bunk, I'm on the hunt for a pair that will walk the walk when it comes to quality, and look darn good doing it. Harder than I thought to find, especially on a budget. However as I do the math, it doesn't take Honors Accounting to figure out that it's going to cost me more to buy three so-so pairs a season verses one quality, timeless pair.

On my search for the perfect boot for life's daily adventures, I came across the California designed and Mexico made (fair trade, of course) Green Bees. Designed from locally sourced materials by the daughters of a decades old shoe manufacturing company, these boots bring together the best in buzz words that will perk up the ears of eco-fashionistas everywhere. Green Bees upcycles old tires into new shoe soles, getting four soles from every one tire otherwise doomed to the dump.

Though these shoes aren't vegan, the leathers used are traditionally processed without any heavy metals or formaldehyde, which for me is a toss up that I am always weighing in my head. My past two boots that I've quickly worn through were man made materials, which means none of the materials involved were made from animals. At the same time, they didn't last or hold up to the elements well at all, which means my materials “boot print” is accounting now for three pairs of boots a season instead of one for (hopefully) several seasons. As anyone rocking a quality vintage pair of leather cowboy boots knows, good leather lasts, and so the energy and resource use of production, transportation, packaging, and all that jazz doesn't need to be expended again with new pair after new pair. I declare this issue hereby open for debate (oh the beauty of the comments box).

Green Bees will also plant a tree for every pair of boots purchased, and you just can't argue with that. The classic design of these boots and beautiful tonal colors will transcend trends while being hip enough for your tucked in skinny jeans or spunky skirt of the season. While I'm still on the prowl for what else the brilliant world of eco-forward footwear could bring, I love the idea of upcycled, fair trade, and too cute to boot!

25 December 2009

Green Personal Care

Have you ever thought about how many plastic items you use everyday? After the holidays are over, the trash can is often loaded with wrapping paper, plasticware, and plastic packaging. Many items we use and rely on everyday are plastic (toothbrushes, razors, etc.) and it's often impossible to find alternatives. The Preserve company is taking steps to improve this issue. Preserve makes personal care items, plasticware, and kitchenware from all recycled plastics. Whenever you're done using the products, Preserve provides free shipping so the consumer can send the products back to be recycled again! The products are brightly colored and affordable, and can be found easily at local retailers such as Target and Whole Foods. Preserve is taking the necessary steps to bring recycling to the mainstream consumer in an affordable way.

18 December 2009

Green Holiday

The holidays have arrived. The mailbox is filled with glittery greeting cards. The gifts have been purchased and wrapped. Now, it is time for the little details that make holiday get togethers something to remember. And, if you are like me then ambiance is a big deal. Lighting, music, centerpieces,candles and of course your outfit, all play a huge role in creating the perfect environment for catching up with old friends and staying close with relatives. This year make your holiday event environmentally friendly. Use organic items from the backyard like pinecones, herbs and fruit to decorate. If you live in wintry conditions you can order a guilt-free flower centerpiece from organicbouquet.com. Switch to energy efficient LED light bulbs to save on electric. To add some extra ambiance use soy or beeswax candles opposed to traditional candles that emit toxic soot into your home and lungs. I know the pile up of dirty dishes is something everyone dreads. As an alternative visit http://www.worldcentric.org/ for compostable plates, cups, napkins and utensils. Most importantly, the outfit. Show how important green living is with the clothes on your back. Jonano has some beautiful and ethical dresses that are sure to spice up your night. And remember recycle, recycle, recycle...Happy Holidays!

11 December 2009

A Gift Worth Giving and Hats off to Humble Heros

Each year at this time I like to meditate and ground myself as we speed into the holidays, and this year, on to a new decade. I take an inventory of the year’s events, achievements and struggles, and spend some time with reflecting on life and the ultimate goal for me, happiness.

Here at eco Couture we like to search out the gems in the world that are mindful in their design choices as they walk this planet. Today I would like to talk about one special person who looks, not to clothe for profit, but instead for inner peace and a profound connection with his brothers and sisters.

I offer Hazzah to Holocaust survivor Henri Landwirth.

Henri knows what it means not to have clothes - to be stripped of dignity and to give up all hope. He founded Dignity U Wear to create real change in the lives of children and adults in need by distributing brand new clothing to them through their not for profit nationwide organization. He has known the struggle of having everything stripped away and the depths of despair and has made it his mission in life to try to restore broken spirits and restores hope, dignity and self-esteem.

With the struggles so many families are facing this year and winter’s cold at our doors, Dignity U Wear is specifically in need of new baby clothes and outerwear to give to those in need this season. Designers who would like to donate new and unworn clothing from their showrooms and stockrooms can contact Dignity U Wear at 888.364.1305.

This year you can contribute to Henry’s mission and shop for your friends and family at the same time through the Dignity U Wear – Jonäno/Sami Baby partnership. For every Sami Baby clothing item you purchase through December 23rd, Sami Baby will donate a brand new item of baby clothes to the good folks at Dignity U Wear.

Sami Baby makes cute, organically grown and ethically sewn baby clothing that’s gift ready. Thanks Henry and thank you all for checking in regularly to see what we here at eco Couture are so passionate about – beauty from the inside out!

24 November 2009

Jonano model search is ON!

Jonano is looking for their next eco-fashion-ilicious model!

Jonano Eco Model Search is having an open call December 1st from 3-6pm in Jonano's Riverfront Studio in Steel City turned Green Mecca, Pittsburgh PA (333 East Carson Street on Terminal Way, Second Building on the Left, Floor 5). Contestants should be ready to strut their stuff and share one simple way they bring green to the mainstream! Your response will be premiered on the iFoundJonano YouTube channel.

You don't need to be a size zero to look great in Jonano! The only requirements are to exude natural confidence, be original, and care to learn about the progression of sustainable fashion. No previous modeling experience is required.

Aspiring models should go to "Jonano eco model search" on facebook to post a picture and find out more information. Jonano wants models to be a part of the movement, using the page as a forum to share eco-fashion insight. The winner will receive a handful of Jonano wardrobe must-haves, a photo-shoot and images, local and national exposure, and the potential to come on board with the Jonano team for future paid shoots and projects. Share your passion for eco-fashion and break into the biz in one delicious bite!

16 November 2009

Holiday Beauty for the Eco-Maven!

Natural cosmetics can often be hard to find or expensive, but Burt's Bees is aiming to make natural gift giving easy this holiday season. The Burt's Bees company is devoted to making natural care products that are good for you and good for the environment, and they've come out with fabulous natural gifts for the holiday season! Burt's Bees has come out with a cute holiday line of products-with the eco-conscious buyer in mind. Whether you're buying for men or women, Burt's Bees has assembled full-sized products into Holiday packages at reduced prices. Gifts are also organized by buyer budget- consumers can shop for gifts under $20, $15, and $10. Some favorites include the Polka Dot Mani-Pedi kit, which features a full-size coconut foot creme, full-size almond milk hand creme, full-size lemon balm cuticle creme, nail file, travel case, and orange wood cuticle sticks- all for $20.00!

15 November 2009

Feed Your Face with Organic Skin Food

Lets talk about how we nourish our faces - face food! We know that what we eat can affect how we look. Is the same also true for our skin? I want to share with all of you my own personal organic skin diet...Dr. Alkaitis!

Dr. Alkaitis, his daughter Trish and I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of years ago and I gave the good doctor a challenge. If he could find products in his toolkit that would not irritate my extremely sensitive skin, I would tell everyone I know and even those I don't about it. Well this is no small challenge as up until that day the only thing I could apply to my most sensitive skin was pure organic aloe vera gel which I kept stored in the refrigerator. Dr Alkaitis assembled a nice meal for my skin and I have been a fan ever since. My skin glows with good health, not only because I eat well, but my skin eats well too...and smelled amazing!

If you are looking for a new skin care line and want to invest in something you know will work for sensitive skin, I can guarantee Dr. Alkaitis will not let you down.

13 November 2009

By The Sea Launches Eco Chic Collection in Kauai

Eco chic collection, Jonano, made its Kauai debut this autumn at the popular fashion boutique By the Sea. Mindful Fashionistas came out to shop.

The highly innovative collection combines eco-fabrics like viscose from bamboo, colorgrown cotton, and corn as well as natural details from tagua to coconut. Many of the collection’s signature pieces are multifunctional and versitile like this bandeau convertible dress that can be worn 16 ways, from top to dress to skirt to wrap. Seasonal collections are created from travel inspirations and each story that is brought to life by combining the splendor of natural elements with cultural allusions.

For a unique shopping experience please visit By The Sea, located in Poipu Shopping Village on the sunny South Shore of Kauai.Offering the islands finest resort wear clothing and accessories for men and women. Featuring the Eco Kashmere collection from Jonano. Enjoy the island lifestyle with luxuriously soft bamboo clothing, and look gorgeous doing it!

02 November 2009

Heirloom, the 11th Annual New York Fashion and Design Conference

December 3 - 5, 2009

It's that time of the year again, when sustainable design is celebrated in the Big Apple. Thanks to Lisa Koenigsberg, Ph.D., the energy behind Art in Initiatives Annual Fashion Conference,this event has been going strong for 11 years straight. This year's theme, "Heirloom," brings to mind those keepsakes that were passed on in my own family...pretty cameo pin, sweet charm bracelet, vintage wool camping shirt and beaded purse collection from dandier days.

As always, a distinguished panel of fashion and jewelry world insiders and mavericks are panel guests to discuss the many facets of heirloom elements in design. Speakers include Deborah Milner, the designer who created a sensation with Aveda Ecoture collection, Deborah Linquist, designer noted for her high style eco wedding attire like this "Rose" wedding gown, Robin Renzi of Me & Ro jewelry and all the way from across the pond, Penny Walsh, founder of Dyework. The question at hand, "How do we carry on the traditions of the past while meeting contemporary challenges such as the need for conservation of the earth’s resources?"

The ultimate heirloom is the Earth itself, and attention to eco-friendly principles and practices is important to our stewardship of the planet. Concepts of fair trade and eco-consciousness and a focus in not only on design but also on the elements that go into design and the techniques used in creation will be explored.

This conference will be held at The Graduate Center City University of New York (Fifth Ave. between 34th–35th Streets).
You can register on-line for this conference, or get more info by contacting Lisa Koenigsburg: lisa.koenigsberg@artinitiatives.com or call 646-485-1952.

See you there!

01 October 2009

Celebrating Biodiversity through Fashion and Textiles

Before next day shipping, internet shopping, and tools of mass production, what people of the world wore could read as a map of local ecology and wildlife. Now, as technology and high speed travel allow for fashionistas in all corners of the globe to sport whatever fabrics strike their fancy (for the most part), there is a movement afoot to slow down, localize, and create healthy, place based textiles and garments that are regenerative in nature.

This manifests into a whole new take on the traditional- a fusion of sustainability movements, ethno-botany and traditional craft, this exploration of uses of native plants in dyes and fabrics, as well as indigenous textile process takes cues and hues from the Slow Food movement. Permacouture Institute is one organization pioneering the way for creating ecoliteracy and biodiversity through fashion. Founder Sasha Duerr fuses her experience in textile and garment design with her education in permaculture, resulting in a milieu of educational and ecological opportunities “from seed to studio”. Looking to create a healthy fusion between ecology and culture (I'm feelin those permaculture roots!), the Permacouture Institute's think tank-abilities range from creating curriculum for schools and community gardens to researching and educating designers on natural dyes and creative re-use and recycling of fiber.

One of several of their dynamic programs, Seeds to Sew, encourages seed saving of the dye and textile plants on a global and local level. This ensures the identification and survival of unique fiber fabulous and dye plants while increasing biodiversity. We'll be keeping our eyes on these folks, looking for their next fashion functional dose of ecoliteracy.

01 September 2009

A high kick for eco high heels! (don't try that at home)

My latest adventure climbing through the jungles of the World Wide Web sent me in search of the ever elusive eco-shoe... (and here's the catch) that is actually cute. A few clicks and not-quite-rights later, I stumbled upon Terra Plana. The script read right for the eco part of eco-couture- "Inspired by ecological survival, TERRA PLANA believes in a variety of non-generic products supporting ideas of sustainability: lightness, anatomic design, disassembly and durability," but could these shoes walk the catwalk?

In my humble opinion the answer is yes yes and yes. On top of that, I think that these peep toe sling-back high heels you see up top could hop right off the catwalk and make the walk to work with their recycled memory foam lining. High heels with memory foam lining? Recycled??? We really are getting somewhere, folks.

What made these shoes my favorite, if anyone was asking, is that they pack a colorful punch and ecological soul power from incorporating recycled Pakistani quilts in their upper. This makes each of these gorgeous ladies unique in their own way, as if they weren't unique enough already.

Terra Plana makes mens and kids shoes too, as well as a series that mocks what it's like to go barefoot, so you can get the health benefits of walking the way nature intended (without exposure to all that street funk you don't need between your toes). With at least one part of every shoe design coming from recycled material and an attention to wise and healthy material use, Terra Plana aims to come closer to the true sustainable shoe with each collection. Now that's something to put on your party shoes and dance to.

10 August 2009

There's more to green than numbers

In the energy crunch of the 70’s, Jimmy Carter came to his infamous fireside chat wearing a cardigan, urging everyone to bundle up to turn the thermostat down. A good and practical message Jimmy, though not exactly the sexiest delivery.

In Japan, an initiative called Cool Biz redefined office fashion and saved office buildings hundreds in cooling expenses by redesigning business attire. The initiative encouraged wearing breathable, lightweight business casual looks that did not involve the constricting, heat trapping tie or heavy suit jacket during the summer months. Not only did it reduce the amount of energy used to keep business folk cool across the country, but designers clamored to the office fashion forefront to make it look good.

The great thing about well done eco-fashion is it can make doing your karmic best for our ecosystems desirable, not a sacrifice. However when the Japanese government mandated certain Cool Biz months for summer office hours- insisting that offices set their air conditioning no lower than 28 degrees C (82 degrees F), dressing lighter just didn't cut it for the sweaty workers tip tap typing away inside.

A valiant effort to cut carbon emissions, but reports of the increase in crankiness and drop in productivity begged for a new balance in cool clothes to cool air. The UN set its AC at 25 degrees instead for its “Cool UN” initiative, which scraps suits and ties for a more casual, less constricting dress code during the month of August. The UN website estimates they will save not only 10 percent of their monthly energy consumption, but 4 billion pounds of steam (thus cutting 300 tons of carbon dioxide in the process), and financial savings of over $100,000.

Now there are Cool Biz initiatives in cities across the globe, challenging offices to loosen the tie and lower the AC to save energy, reduce emissions, and lower costs. Sounds pretty cool to us. For ladies such as myself, keeping cool is both in the cut and in the fabric. My favorite for breathability and moisture wicking prowess is bamboo, hands and fans down (plus bamboo has antimicrobial properties that keep you smelling fresh). Combine this feel good fabric with a cut that drapes enough to welcome a breeze but is tailored enough to look professional at the office. This summer check out one of my favorite finds from Jonano- the Double Sash Shirt Dress. It has all of the bamboo goodness and the cut is right, plus I find it super slimming with its line of sea shell double buttons... keeping me as cool as a sea cucumber.

06 August 2009

Think like a green designer!

The design of a great eco-friendly product takes more than meets the eye... beyond the environmental and social considerations, a designer has to create something that people want and like -- what good is an organic, fair trade gizmo or accessory if no one cares to use it? A great product is one that not only serves its purpose well, but encourages green behavior with its use (and looks darn good doing it).

I got a taste of the world of a green designer when I took a workshop from the creative firm Ideo Design. The session was called “Designing for Green Behaviors” and it was packed full of people eager to design the way to a more sustainable society. We started off the session by getting into groups of three or four and picking an object on our person to redesign to be more sustainable. My group picked a plastic bracelet with sequins inside. The plastic was already made out of some sort of scrap roofing material, but when thinking about the full circle life of the bracelet, we saw it wearing and tearing over the years and being put into a landfill where it would inevitably be leeching all sorts of plasticy grossness. The lady to my left suggested the use of the same compostable potato starch material that was easily disguised as clear plastic for disposable cups we'd been sipping juice out of. Compostable jewlery? Sounds pretty good to me.

In addressing the same plastic waste problem for the silver sequins floating inside, I remembered back to Doug Wentzel showing me the wondrous world of jewel weed, a common plant in Pennsylvania with beautiful orange flowers that attract bees and butterflies. He showed me that you can break the stem and rub the fluid inside on your poison ivy to make it stop itching and dry up. You can then take the stem and hold it under the water of a passing stream and the leaves will look like beautiful shiny silver. So, I thought we could plant some jewel weed here and there, beautifying and attracting pollinators to the area in the process, and then take a hole punch to a few of the leaves on different plants to make naturally decomposing sequins to float in our potato starch bracelet. For being the only non-engineer of the group, I was quite proud of my idea.

The folks at Ideo went on to explain their process they use when designing for their clients and, more specifically, the people who will be likely to use their products or services. Their process centered on the behaviors and relationship that their designs create, emphasizing the creation of an experience.

We were then shown a slide show of about 15 photos from a stranger’s day. As a group, we tried to piece together a profile of the person: their name, age, occupation, life stage, bad habits, favorite Sunday activity, last book read, dream vacation, and so on. A few groups shared their informed guess and were surprisingly close to the profile of the actual man.

We then redesigned the bracelet for this man, while being sure to keeping the green in green re-design. Our group decided that we could engrave the bracelet with some sort of quote he may like, or maybe with some sort of anniversary or birthday date or well wishing so he could give it to his wife. If it were a gift, it would need a box most likely, so we decided the box would be made of decomposable paper with jewel weed seeds pressed in as I had seen on a wedding invitation. Inside the box are written instructions on planting the box and sharing the uses of jewel weed. Maybe a dried jewel weed flower is pressed into the top for the finishing touch. (Any other suggestions to make it better, Readers??)

If we had more time, we could have gone for another hour tweaking our bracelet into the perfect specimen of green design. It really made me realize I could be approaching many of my design dilemmas in my life this way, constantly improving my living space, my transportation situation, my wardrobe :), my general approach to life! One thing I would have to perfect is my desire to be able to recycle things by composting, reusing, and reinventing, next to my desire to have a well made, quality product (ok, I'm talking about clothes here) that will last me a lifetime, so we don't even need to spend the energy involved with recycling in the first place. This is what the Slow Fashion movement is all about, but that's a whole other compost bin of worms.

02 August 2009

Clay Dye Blends Color and Consciousness

While scouring the web to find a birthday gift for my honey pie, I came across a new dye process that inspired thoughts of my Pennsylvania mud sliding past. As anyone who wore a light colored shirt to these summer slip and slides knows- let that mud dry and it is not coming out. A similar realization may have inspired Earth Creations unique and environmentally friendly clay dye process, which uses washes of different types of clay to color the organic t-shirts it produces fair trade in rural Alabama.

Not only is this low-impact dye biodegradable and naturally derived, the process requires none of the massive amounts of salt that conventional dyeing processes demand, thereby preventing the downriver degradation to our watersheds that occurs when the floodgates open at commercial dye houses.

Most of the clay Earth Creations uses comes from the Southeastern US where good deposits in a variety of vibrant colors abound. The clay is finely ground and mixed with water before it is stirred with unbleached clothing in a large vat. After about an hour, the clothes are lifted out and dried before they are inspected. The dye-process allows for lasting color that slightly fades over time like a well worn pair of jeans.

As for the birthday man in my life, I'm leaning towards this Give Peace a Chance tee, which I think his guitar strumming, bird call humming self will dig. As for a birthday cake, I think mud pie might be going a bit too far...

21 July 2009

Everybody Grab a Boyfriend

The Boyfriend trend has been romancing fashion for several seasons now.  I became aware of my desires with the Boyfriend jeans.  Looser, broken in and faded ... easy like an old boyfriend.  A welcome alternative to the tighter, darker bootlegs that were long enough for heels, but too long for Sunday afternoons, the Boyfriend jeans work well with bare feet, flip flops or my fave cowboy boots.  They’re as easy to wear as yoga pants ... but made of denim.  What could be better?  

Well, when the temperatures climb, the Boyfriend shorts are the ones I take out again and again.  Cut off, frayed or cuffed, they’re casual, hip and cool.  I especially like them belted with a fitted tank and flat sandals.  They can also be changed up with a long sweater and chunky sandals, or even tights and boots when the temps drop again.  

The Boyfriend khakis are another staple for warm weather.  Cute with an ultra-feminine ruffled tee or tank and retro sneakers or a fitted polo and ballet flats.  These pants add a neo-preppy side to summer’s wardrobes.

My biggest attraction this summer may be a return to my first boyfriend.  The Boyfriend cardigan has been around forever, but never as desirable as this season.  Jonano’s ecoKashmere Boyfriend Cardigan is so date-night cute with your favorite pair of dark wash skinny jeans, belted or hanging loose.  Yep, skinny jeans here.  Only one boyfriend at a time, please.  

The refined styling features mother of pearl button closure, and extra long length in the body and sleeve. Great for snuggling, this knit is exceptionally soft in a viscose of organic bamboo blended with a hint of polyester for stretch resilience and lasting style.  Other boyfriends may come and go, but this one can be there for the long haul, seasonless and classic.

Cloud White, Ice Blue, Midnight Black.  MSRP $110

Wrap yourself in this sweater, and you may want to stay in his -- um its arms forever.  

21 June 2009

Summer Hair Care: Eco-Friendly

Take Care of Your Hair This Summer
Since I had been patiently waiting in anticipation for weeks, I was almost happy when my antique blow dryer finally gave out. Instantaneously, I was browsing through the almost infinite number of options online and happened upon the Ceramic ECO 8000 Blow Dryer, created by Barbar. To my surprise, Barbar was promoting the blow dryer's eco-friendly aspects. Although a blow dryer's sole function is to better the appearance of all of our marvelous hair, think about the millions of woman who use one everyday in their normal routine! This blow dryer's low wattage can help reduce our carbon footprint and make you ladies feel a little more eco-friendly. I personally enjoyed the extra long cord, which gave me more freedom to multitask in the morning.
Also you might want to take a second glance at Olivia Garden's Ionic Massage Brush Collection. Not only are they made up of natural bamboo and naturally antibacterial, but they also stimulate hair growth by activiating blood cell circulation on your scalp. What more could you ask of hairbrush? To see more, please visit http://www.oliviagarden.com/healthyhairbrushes.htm

14 June 2009

Fashion. Style. Culture.: Bamboo Fashion Is About To Take Flight

Eco-Chic Has Gone From Hippie to HOT-Damn!

Before American Apparel undoubtedly corners this market, too, be the first on your block to go bamboo. The key to its sustainable applications is its astronomical growth rate. More garden weed than tree, bamboo can grow up to 18 inches a day, reaching a harvestable size within three to five years. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s up to 20 times faster than hard wood trees, which average anywhere between 50 to 100 years to cultivate. Best of all, bamboo absorbs nearly five times more greenhouse gases and produces 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees, according to some measurements. Did I mention it’s also naturally antibacterial?

SHOWN ABOVE: Jonano eco chic bandeau dress in buff retails for $52.oo at Jonano.com
But before you start recounting the itchy advent of Woody Harrelson-endorsed hemp, heed this mantra: A green aesthetic doesn’t have to mean ascetic. If its texture is comparable to anything on the market, it’s silk – a fact that is not lost on its wide range of purveyors. From bedsheets to bathrobes, camisoles to yoga clothes, bamboo fabric is steadily approaching mainstream acceptance. Take a closer look at some of your favorite retailers’ catalogs. This surprisingly soft fabric-alternative, which is actually a type of grass, not wood, is changing the way several companies think green. Though they may not feature these items on the front page of the catalog, many established stores are tinkering with the prospect of bamboo chic. Among these tentative giants: Urban Outfitters, Banana Republic, and Adidas. Even New York mainstay Anthropologie offers a smattering of bamboo products.

Yet despite select retailers' enthusiasm, bamboo has thus far been ignored by most markets. So what’s taking so long? According to Jing, head designer at Juzd Bamboo (pronounced “Juiced Bamboo”) – a new line of urban streetwear made entirely with bamboo fabrics – it boils down to fear. After shopping his brand around to several big name retailers, the overwhelming response was yes on the clothing, no to bamboo. Most claimed that the eco-fabric was a promising yet “untested” prospect.

Jing was undeterred, and the enterprising designer decided to launch his own company, on his own terms. As a matter of personal pride, Jing regards his new label as an attempt to dislodge eco-conscious clothing from the clutches of one small, musky contingent. “It seems like all these other [eco-friendly] lines are designed for hippies, by hippies.” Through a pair of metallic D&G aviators, he shared with The New Agenda his vision for the future of bamboo clothing: “I want to be big like Diesel…but sustainable. These other companies are hollow, superficial. I want some meaning behind my brand, a real philosophy.”

Though there are certainly no hard feelings between Jing and his flower-power predecessors, he sees a future where Juzd offers a stylish alternative to the sack cloth and hemp of yesteryear; in short, a complete paradigm shift. “We have to aim our sustainable clothing to the masses. People don’t buy ugly clothing just to help the environment.” To ensure the highest quality product, Jing sought inspiration from all over the world; from Argentina to the Philippines, Australia to Canada, and he’s assembled a veritable think tank in green fashion. His collaborators range from print and fashion designers to wallpaper and comic book artists; the fruit of which yields a one-of-a-kind design every time.

Best of all, Jing guarantees the moral and fair treatment of all his workers, both locally and overseas in China – a rarely struck balance between ethics and praxis, even for the green industry. He is currently finalizing a deal with Holt Renfrew, a major Canadian retailer on par with Barneys New York, to offer a selection of exclusive Juzd designs. Until then, check out Jing’s original, limited edition T-shirts at juzdbamboo.com.

Still not convinced of bamboo’s bright future? Nothing moves the obstinate like some high-profile celebrity endorsements. According to a recent feature in Us Weekly (oh, the lengths The New Agenda goes to get the hot scoops), Angelina Jolie loves dressing daughter Shiloh in Kicky Pants’ line of baby bamboo clothing. Touting the benefits of naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial properties, it’s no wonder bamboo clothing is raking in celebrity dollars. For even more proof of bamboo’s versatility, the evergreen and always exciting Daryl Hannah offers an eclectic array of bamboo items on her website dhlovelife.com. From her “beauteous bamboo worm-bin” to exclusive “bad-ass bamboo snowboard,” Hannah firmly supports the myriad uses of bamboo – and alliteration.

So if you’re ready to run the full gamut of bamboo couture, gear up with these pioneering brands:

Juzd Bamboo juzdbamboo.com
Juzd is bringing eco-street to the game, complete with slick designer threads. Think Ed Hardy meets Ralph Nader, but iller. Hittin’ your block in late July.
Limited Edition Shirt ≈ $100(Full catalog coming soon.)

Vast selection of bamboo and organic cashmere clothing, in a wide array of colors and styles.
Women’s Top ≈ $35 Women’s Pants ≈ $60 Dress ≈ $70 Skirts ≈ $65

Soft Forest
For all your (green) household needs. Check out their silky smooth bath and bedroom collections – all made from a minimum 80% bamboo.
Bath ≈ $3-$29 Bedding ≈ $36-$129 Accessories ≈ $5-$25

Kicky Pants
Behold – the most adorable, nigh saccharine use of alliteration to ever be uttered: bamboo baby booties. The horror…
Baby Dress ≈ $35 Organic Onesie ≈ $16 Baby Polo ≈ $20 Maternity wear ≈ $35

Bamboo Clothing (U.K.)
Great selection of menswear (even skivvies). Don’t forget to check out their informative FAQ section.
Trim Tee ≈ $40 Polo ≈ $50 Underwear ≈ $16-$20

Bamboo Clothes
A stateside alternative to its eponymous U.K. competitor. Update grandma’s penchant for panty-gifting with these intimates. FYI, they sell DIY spools of bamboo yarn.
Sports Bra ≈ $20 Basic Tee ≈ $23 Kids’ Onesie ≈ $13

11 May 2009

Green is Sexy!

Known and loved for her roles in Mean Girls and Wedding Crashers as well as MTV Movie Awards 'Best Kiss' in The Notebook, Rachel McAdams is calling on all leading ladies to go green with underwear ... bamboo underwear.  

Bamboo is renewable, biodegradable, sustainable and the fabric is also incredibly silky soft.  But the benefits don't stop there. Read on, underwear wearers.  

The tiny gaps and holes in bamboo fiber promote better moisture absorption and ventilation. “Bamboo kun,” a unique anti-bacterial agent found in bamboo fiber possesses natural functions of anti-bacteria and deodorization. And unlike cotton, bamboo fiber products will not grow fungus even if left in moist conditions, leaving it with a fresh smell.  And that's probably more than any of us want to share when we're shopping for underwear, so just keep in mind that bamboo fabrics are sustainable, renewable, breathable, naturally antimicrobial and super silky soft. 

Wear bamboo with confidence, knowing that you not only look and feel good, but are also doing good.  And that is SEXY.

Visit www.GreenIsSexy.org for everyday tips for green living. Visit www.jonano.com for green and sexy things to wear over your underwear.

28 April 2009

Mother's Day Gifting Special - Jonano eco chic collections

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 10. This year, why not go green and serene and choose to give an eco-friendly oasis of relaxation, renewal and rejuvenation? Jonano's ecoLux Spa Robe combines two robes in one. Offering exclusive spa and resort styling, this dual layer luxury robe is made of  silky-soft woven viscose from organic bamboo on the outside and lined in lightweight viscose from organic bamboo terry on the inside.  Truly sensuous against the skin!  This gorgeous robe fits perfectly in our large-size gift box for a perfect Mother's Day eco gift ready for giving and getting.  From sauna to seaside, as a compliment to the healing environment you nourish.  After all, doesn't every Mom desire and deserve a little pampering? 

Features a shawl collar, cuffed long sleeves, deep front pockets, elegant piping and plush yet durable construction throughout. One size. Custom gift card included!


22 April 2009

Happy Earth Day 2009!

Wishing you all a beautiful day and the chance to get outside and enjoy it! If we all do our part by changing little things in our everyday life, we can make big, positive changes to conserve and preserve Mother Earth's natural gifts. I like to remind myself and my family to 'walk gently and leave a small footprint.' And I like to do that in truly fabulous shoes. My current fave is a funky, fun, ribbon-topped wedge made from solid cherry wood sustainably sourced in Potter County, PA. These fabulous-o footwear are handmade in Chicago. When it comes to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, reducing my wardrobe is not what I want to do. But I do love to buy new fashion items that have more than one way to wear 'em. With countless ways to tie the ribbons and so many options for ribbon colors, you can get several different looks out of one pair of shoes. I'm crazy for the surprisingly comfortable 4" high platform wedges, but there are other options for those with a fear of heights. To see more, please visit http://www.mohop.com/
May today be a day to remind us all to beautify the earth each and every day.

14 April 2009

A Champion For A Great Cause...

Providing dignity and a leg up to those who have fallen on hard times is just what Henri Landwirth envisioned when he founded DignityUWear in 2000. As a Holocaust survivor, Henri knows something about maintaining ones self-respect and dignity when times seem bleak.

Always with faith, he hungered to offer aid through philanthropic efforts and DignityUWear was born. The not for profit specializes in gathering new donations from clothing manufacturers like Jonano and distributing brand new clothing to men, women and children in need in need at absolutely no cost to them.

Choosing to only offer brand new clothing donations is an important part of Henri's vision. To find an agency that distributes DignityUWear please find your state on the DignityUWear Directory, and for volunteer opportunities email info@dignityuwear.org

Hazzah Henri!

31 March 2009

Spring Break Eco Chic

Wanna get away? If you’re going somewhere warm for Spring Break like I am this week, you too know the challenges of packing a wardrobe for a week in a TSA regulation carry on bag II am happy to share with you my weeks picks for my own little get away...in gorgeous shades of sun-kissed sand and turquoise waters, a few fabulous pieces make it easy to look chic, pack lightly and honor the earth that you set out to enjoy.

Sun protection is a must for me and nothing protects my freckle face and hair better than a wide-brimmed hat. The San Francisco Hat Co. offers several styles that fit the bill, including my personal favorite, the Classic Panama Straw Sun Hat. The fine straw hats known as "panamas" actually originate in the mountains and the coastal regions of Ecuador, a must visit on any travel hounds list Panama hats are made from sustainably harvested young leaves of the Carludovica palmata. Because Carludovica is not a true palm, young leaves can be picked without threatening the life of the tree.

The indigenous craft of weaving gives artisans an opportunity to work for themselves and earn money without having to forsake their own communities and cultural traditions. Best of all, thesee hats are rollable for travel and a must have for sun-filled days. With so many styles and colors to choose from, you may find it as hard as I did to pick just one.

never travel without Jonano's ecoKashmere Asymmetrical Hem Bandeau Dress! I have so far found at least five different ways to wear it. So simple, so streamlined, so many possibilities! Wear it as a dress, top, skirt or use your imagination. A perfect travel piece!

Better than barefoot, Planet Flops makes eco-chic and comfortable flip-flop sandals. The difference is in the rubber. FLOPS are made in beautiful Brazil with remarkably soft yet durable natural Brazilian rubber. Synthetic rubber is manufactured from petrochemical feedstocks, with crude oil being the primary raw material. The harvesting of natural rubber occurs by harmlessly "tapping" into the tree to remove a milky sap from the bark.
This does not affect the health of the tree. Instead of destroying the rain forests for the timber or to make room for ranching, rubber trees provide a renewable, sustainable source of income for the millions of people living there. In addition, rubber trees are an excellent source for removing CO2 from the environment. Doing good for those in need, Planet Flops gave over 9,000 pairs to Soles4Souls Inc., the international charity that sent the footwear to several different orphanages to help fill the tremendous need that exists among children living in poverty. In addition to their natural rubber construction, which provides a firm but comfortable platform, FLOPS come in a delicious array of colors, with names like Apple, Chcolate Candyfloss and Coconut. These are the most comfortable, flexible and fashionable summer footwear you can own and when you’re ready for a new pair, simply return the old ones and they will be recycled and you’ll get a 10% discount on your next pair. A must-have fashion item that offers style, distinction and comfort in one superior product!

Slip on iWood’s Boxy Aviators and you can cover up and stand out. With only limited quantities of wooden sunglasses produced each year, I have joined the ranks of a small circle of discerning
individuals. Each pair of iWood ecodesign wooden sunglasses incorporates the best components selected from around the world. The temples, being 100% fully adjustable, are imported from Italy and precisely fitted into each pair of wooden sunglasses. The lenses, also imported from Italy, are optical quality with 100% UVA/UVB protection. All aspects from the finish to the temples are hypoallergenic. These features combined with the qualities of wood deliver a lightweight, bold, international statement. iWood ecodesign uses exotic veneers made available by today’s global economy. Each pair of iWood sunglasses is designed with the environment in mind, using the highest quality, eco-sustainable, exotic wood veneer. These oh-so-chic shades are individually crafted with the most modern techniques combined with old world craftsmanship to set you apart in a sea of sunglasses.

Ive greened my life and now my travels too by packing it all in Stewart + Brown’s Green Heart Tote. There's an original, two color graphic printed on this double lined bag, with a button closure and one inner pocket. Made in USA of 100% organic cotton surplus fabric. Surplus is excess fabric or material leftover from manufacturing. Rather than being discarded, the existing fabric is used to make these fabulous tote bags. The folks at S&B are so smart...by utilizing what would otherwise be scrap, salvage items reduce waste, save additional resources and use less of the Earth’s precious capital while still producing great products with a purpose. Brighten your day and show your love for Mother Earth with this hip and handy tote!

Bon Voyage Everyone!